Strengthening Clinical Laboratories

Strengthening Clinical Laboratories

Why Does It Matter?
  • 70% of today’s medical decisions depend on laboratory test results, showing the important role of clinical laboratories in today’s healthcare system
  • ~260,000 CLIA-certified laboratories across the country represent the cornerstone of diagnostic medicine today
  • 14 billion laboratory tests are ordered annually—safety, quality, and cost effectiveness in laboratory testing are required for effective diagnosis and treatment of disease
  • Threats to national security and health can happen at any time, such as disease outbreaks, bioterrorist attacks, or chemical or radiological releases
  • Experts estimate that 40,000–80,000 deaths occur annually from preventable diagnostic errors
  • Patients in rural areas often experience barriers to healthcare and laboratory services that limit their ability to receive the care they need
Why CDC?

Strong clinical laboratories provide the foundation for accurate and timely disease diagnosis, prevention, and control to improve the health and safety of Americans. CDC’s Division of Laboratory Systems is uniquely positioned to support clinical laboratories in several ways

PREPARE
Sustain a robust system of laboratories by developing technical guidance and delivering laboratory training that advance quality testing, effective reporting, and safe practices

CONNECT
Promote patient-centered solutions to reduce diagnostic errors by connecting world-class physicians and healthcare leaders to laboratory professionals through diagnostic management teams and other initiatives

INNOVATE
Create technology-based decision-support tools, such as mobile applications, to support appropriate use of laboratory services, and virtual reality trainings to enhance laboratory competencies

RESPOND
Strengthen clinical laboratory response capabilities by establishing a national laboratory outreach communication system and providing access to available specimens in the CDC Biorepository

References for Diagnostic Error Statement

Graber ML, “The incidence of diagnostic error in medicineExternal,” BMJ Qual Saf 2013;22:ii21-ii27.

Leape LL, Berwick DM, and Bates DW, “Counting Deaths Due to Medical Errors—ReplyExternal,” JAMA 2002;288(19):2405.

Tehrani, AS Saber, et al., “25-year summary of US malpractice claims for diagnostic errors 1986-2000: an analysis from the National Practitioner Bank,ExternalBMJ Qual Saf, 22, 672-680 (2013).

Winters B, et al. “Diagnostic errors in the intensive care unit: a systematic review of autopsy studiesExternal,” BMJ Qual Saf 2012;21:894–902.

Page last reviewed: November 15, 2018